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A strategic partnership between an electric car low carbon battery manufacturer and a sustainable tech company is aiming to set a new industry benchmark for tracking C02 emissions across the manufacturing supply chain.

Britishvolt, a young innovating in lithium-ion battery cell technologies company, is working with globally operating Circulor, based in London, Germany, Singapore and North America, to create a digital chain of custody and dynamic inventory across all of its production, including the build of its Gigaplant in Northumberland.

This 20+ year project will be the first of its kind in tracking not only the supply chains for the batteries but the construction and maintenance of the facility in Northumberland, as well as the related economic development impact on the local area.

Circulor will provide Britishvolt with a dynamic and living digital building inventory for the Gigaplant during the build phase. This will help in the company’s quest to build some of the world’s most low carbon, sustainable, battery cells.

Dr Megan Ronayne, Head of Industrial Technologies and Manufacturing at Innovate UK KTN, said: “This innovative partnership between Britishvolt and Circulor is a fantastic example of setting an industry standard of delivering sustainable and ethical world-class manufacturing.

“This is precisely what the Made Smarter Innovation Network is aiming to replicate over the next four years in its role of joining communities together to drive positive change and transform UK manufacturing."

  • The Inspiration

    Britishvolt is on a mission to build some of the world’s most low carbon, sustainable, responsibly manufactured battery cells.

    As a relatively new business, building its first factory in the UK and a second in North America, it can embed a high level of commitment to environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) standards right from the start.

    Craig Woodburn, head of ESG, explained: “ESG is a crucial pillar to the business's success, driven by the demands of our employees, our customers, our investors and wider society, as well as increasing regulation.”

    “As a young business, we have the opportunity to create a benchmark for a new level of visibility and traceability across the supply chain to show the carbon footprint and the provenance of raw materials.”

    With the new factory not due to commence production until 2024, Britishvolt has started the task of collecting data from across the value chain from mining to refining to manufacturing, as well as recycling, recovery and reuse.

    Woodburn added: “We can’t just act on our own anymore. It’s important to look up and downstream and work with partners to continually improve some of those ESG requirements that are fundamental to our business and the wider world.”

    “Future regulations will need us to put the carbon footprint on our batteries, so we need to know the full data that feeds into that calculation.”

    “It is tech partners that will help provide us with that insight and support. That is why we chose to work with Circulor to help make our complex industrial supply chain transparent.”

  • The Innovation

    Circulor’s software solution can track the flow of raw materials from the mine - cobalt, mica, graphite, lithium, copper, nickel, manganese and 3TGs - as well as plastic, leather and palm oil, to the manufacturer.

    In addition, the solution can encode both the chemistry and the processes a material undergoes from extraction to final product, tracking and building a dynamic picture of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) that are produced at every step along the way.

    With this wealth of data, Circulor creates a chain of custody of materials and emissions along the entire supply chain. Rather than following the paperwork as a proxy, tagging and tracking the material itself allows a far greater accuracy in the management of supply chains, detecting anomalies in near real time. 

    Luise Müller-Hofstede, business development director at Circulor, said: “The ambition of this project is full visibility from the miners to the manufacturer.”

    There are eight materials in a battery, and they are all challenging environmentally or ethically.

    “We collect relevant data which becomes information which becomes knowledge which becomes a tool to control the supply chain and report on the ESG.

    “By connecting, onboarding and mapping all elements we can understand the production steps at each stage. That creates traceability so we can confidentially and reliably link input and output material at each step of the supply chain.

    “Our platform will show the entire upstream supply chain activity and flow of material is behaving within the range, making sure no material of unknown provenance enters the supply chain.”

  • The Impact

    The granular level of detail captured and monitored will give Britishvolt confidence in the visibility and traceability of materials coming upstream into its factory.

    This will enable the business to track its CO2 footprint, prove its ESG performance and support its climate neutrality objectives which can be communicated to its employees, investors and customers.

    The collaboration is creating a step-change in current data collection for the industry and sets a new benchmark in carbon tracking.

    Woodburn added: “Working with Circulor will lead to an industry-wide benchmark platform that paves the way for others.

    “Producing some of the greenest batteries on the planet isn’t just about tracking the raw materials supply chain, it’s also about making sure the facilities we build, the energy we are supplied, in fact, everything we do, is as sustainable and ethically delivered as possible.”

    The development is also a major boost for Northumberland, and indeed the country, and will bring around 3,000 direct highly-skilled jobs and another 5,000+ in the associated supply chains. It will be the first large full-cycle Gigaplant in the UK.

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